Anu Baruah
 
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Anu Baruah

Anu, Anu Baruah or Anurupa was born 2nd June, 1928 at Lakhimpur into a cultured family. Anurupa was the eight children of father Visheswar Chang Kakoti and mother Basantalata Devi. She was elder to three brothers. She was the youngest of all the daughters.

Her primary education started at her native town Lakhimpur. But, due to lack of Middle English school, she was admitted to an English High School in Panbazar, Guwahati. As the winds of war started to blow, Aunrupa returned to her home at Lakhimpur after spending some days in the convent. She completes her elementary education from home.

Interested in arts and literature from a young age, as a degree student in Handique Girls College, she wrote a story ‘Swamir Daan’ which was published in the College magazine. This was her first attempt at writing. When her father noticed his daughter’s skill at writing, he gave her Pandit Neheru’s ‘Letters from a Father to his Daughter’ and asked her to translate it. Anurupa translated it into Assamese and gave the title – ‘Prithvir Puroni Kotha’ (the old Tales of the World). The father was pleased to read the work and encouraged her to continue writing. In this way, Anurupa started cultivating the seeds of literature. While studying at the first year of college, the news of her mother’s death came as a bolt from the blue. This was year 1944. As Anu was staying in a hostel, she was brought to Gopinath Bordoloi’s home to tell her about her mother’s death. The grief- stricken girl was soothed by Gopinath Bordoloi. Surbala Bordoloi, wife of Gopinath, took her into her arms tenderly, for the rest of the night, and consoled her. It was the parental home of Anurupa’s sister-in-law.

Days passed by. Anurupa, passed I.A. from Calcutta University, and was pursing her further education as the student of philosophy Honors in Handique Girls College. At this time, the preparations for her marriage started with Hem Baruah, son of Binanda Chandra Baruah, a native of Jorhat.

She first met Hem Baruah during her school time. Hem Baruah taught at Hanique Girls College for a brief period, which gave scope to both of them to know each other. She came to know that he was a good teacher and a great recite of poems. She was attracted to the dignified and charismatic personality of this man. However, she never had any idea that this man would become her life partner. Gopinath Bordoloi and Neelmoni Phukan played an active part in arranging this marriage. They tied the nuptial knot on 8th march, 1947. Anurupa was happy to have a new family which consisted of her- in-laws, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law. When she noticed that her husband, a writer, politician, was not only confined to her own house but also took care of her, asked her about her well-being, writings, etc her heart danced with joy. She had always wished for such an inspiring and homely environment. Anurupa showed her translation of Nehru’s ‘Letters from a father to his Daughter’ to her husband. Her husband, a man of letters was enthralled to see the pure Assamese translation and the kept use of word-structure. On that very year, he sent the copy of the translation to the Darpan Press at Jorhat for publication. Hem Baruah said to Anurupa, "Your name Anurupa can be shortened to ‘Anu’ like mine. Anu- Anu Baruah! It will sound good." Anurupa felt good. That year saw the publication of her ‘Prithvir Puroni Kotha’ (The Old Tales of the World) in a new form. In place of Anurupa Devi, writer’s name was written as ‘Anu Devi’. This was the beginning; she had found an adequate platform to explore the vast world of literature. The company of novelists, poet, etc encouraged her to peruse literary aptitudes further. While discharging her domestic duties sincerely, she engaged herself regularly in literary pursuits. In 1948, the couple was blessed with their first child, a son, "Tumon", and four years hence in 1952, younger son ‘Anjan’. Busy in managing household chores, she took out time to read and write. In 1956, her book "Animal Farm’ was published.

In 1957, her husband was elected as the MP for the first time, and the entire family shifted to Delhi. This was an added advantage for Anurupa as she now found a huge exposure to the world of literature. The pace of her gained momentum. Spending her time amidst books in the big libraries of the capital, engaging in literary discussions with masters of the art, making tours across the country and abroad widened her knowledge and experience leading her to write a considerable number of books and translated some work. And the name of Anu Baruah became a popular name in the field of Assamese literature. The number of female writers in Assamese could be counted in fingers. In such times, the books like ‘Xagor Dekhilu ’ (I saw the sea). ‘Suryamukhi’ (Sunflower) etc. and several translated volumes by Anu Baruah enriched the store of Assamese literature. Among her twenty-two books twelve are original compositions while ten are translated works. The chronological lists of her books are:-

Prithivir Puroni Kotha (The Old World’s Tale) (1947)

Animal Farm – (1956)

Japani Xadhu (Tales of Japan)- Children book –(1956)

Pokhir Dekhat Anjumoni (Anjumoni in the world of butterflies(1954)

Pohar aru Anandor Xadhu (The story of light and joy)(1964)

Mahatama Baani (The speech of Mahatama)- Translation (1965)

Prasin Bharatiya Xadhu- Translational Indian Stories(-(1966)

Dilir Dukhoriya Sabi (1966)

Prathom Prem (Frist love) Translation- 1967)

Xagor Dekhilu (Saw the Sea), Travelogue- (1868)

R.C.C Ghor (Collection of Stories) (1969)

Bapu 1st ,2nd ,3rd (Translated book for children) (1970)

Asta Tora (Fallen Star) –Fiction – (1970)

Surajmukhi (Sunflower)- Travelogue- (1971)

Tamil Kahini (Tamil Stories)- Translation (1971)

Kaliya Paani (Black Water)- Translation of an Gujrati novel – (1972)

Pandumaar Sagalijoni (The Goat of Pandumaa)(1974)

Khaurah Tumar Buwati Pani –Translation of an Gujrati novel- (1976)

Xadhu, Xadhu, Xadhu (story, Story, Story) (1984)

Hem Baruah : Mor Sinaki Manuhjon (Hem Baruah: The person know to me) (1984)

Karnamojee (Short Story)- Unpublished

Nanda Talukdar"

 

Of these, twelve are original compositions. It is not possible to discuss in detail all the books written by the writer. Therefore, I have tried to provide a brief account of some of her popular works.

Dilir Dukhoriya Sabi (A Potrait of Delhi):

The book ‘Dilir Dukhoriya Sabi’, Published in 1966 is an original work. It had become so popular at that time, that people who had not been to Delhi, desired to take a view of Delhi after reading this book. The details of the historic city of Delhi, flourishing with the relics of Mughal Dynasty, their palaces and buildings, and its history can be found in many books. Mrs. Baruah has not written anything about the Moguls or the palaces, memorials, constructed by them. Neither has she mentioned about the glorious history of the city. She has written about the innumerable people- high and low, settled in the city. She has portrayed the hardship struggle of the poor, deprived people in order to survive in the city. It talks about the rickshaw puller who struggles and works hard dreaming of the bright future of his son. It provides a microscopic view of the life of the iron-man, office clerk, and bottle seller, rag pickers and people who collect old news papers, laborers, working on daily basis, orchestra- man of marriages, decorates, the boy who clean motors cars, taxi drivers, Harijons etc. and miscellaneous group of people associated with various professions, and the honesty and truthfulness inherent in them. Further, it gives a simplified account of the transport system in Delhi. In addition, it describes the inside view of red Fort amidst the varying sketches. The description of ‘echo’ and ‘light’ is so lively that one can feel resting on the green grass carpet in the ‘Diwan-e- Khas’ inside Red Fort.

On reading the articles written on Reverend Ex- President Radhakrishnan and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru entitled ‘A Interview with President Radhakrishnan’, ‘Nehru : Dairy of a day’ and Nehru " the Remnants of Memory’, one can have a clear idea of the life, personality and works of these great persons. We are always curious to know the minute details of the day life of these great people and it gives us food for thought. The subject matter and narrative style is so adroitly done that one cannot keep the book unless it is finished.

Xagor Dekhilu (I saw the sea):

This travelogue was written in 1967 when the author returned from foreign tour with her husband, and was published in 1968. ‘Xagor Dekhilu’--- though it is a travelogue, it is interesting like a novel, and enlightening like a history book. In describing the tour to London and Paris, she has faithfully represented the ‘Boby’. Due to this association, the London cops came to be addressed as ‘Boby’. Rumours abound that London police are not very happy when addressed as ‘Boby’.

While describing the birthplace of Shakespeare, she also elaborates on his plays, hero and heroines, to form an elementary idea of them. One also acquires an idea of the theatrical arts of the time. The historical details and the physical beauty of the place are vividly portrayed.

The description of Wordsworth’s birth place is done in such a lively and animated style that one has the feeling of reading a beautiful poem. The home of Wordsworth ‘Dove Cottage’ called ‘Kapau- Kuti’ and gives an acute description of house. Words worth’s started living in this cottage in Grasmere in 1799 with his sister Dorothy.

‘The Ode to Humanity’, ‘Daffodils’, ‘Excursion’, were composed from this cottage the first copy of these poems are still preserved in this cottage. The manuscript thrown by Wordsworth into the waste paper basket was preserved by his sister Dorothy. Today, the manuscript is beautifully framed in a glass, and put up for display- these details are vividly described by the author so that the sight of the cottage becomes alive before the eyes of the reader. While describing the things used by the poet, in one of the places she writes: "I have seen a fire place. The fire place was just like the one in our village. Even a kettle was hung, this saying is ordinary. But it is written in such a manner that one sees the picture of the day-to-day domestic life, and the things required for our daily purposes. In this way, she narrates the background of Worth worth’s poems.

While writing about Paris and Geneva, she elaborates on the famous buildings such as Napoleon’s Memorial, the beautiful palace of Pele de Versay, and provided an eye-catching view of the mesmerizing natural beauty of Geneva. Along with it she also describes the beauty of Paris city at night.

Mrs. Baruah states that travel and tours ‘give knowledge’, to man like a book. I feel that after reading ‘Xagor Dekhilu’, one can feel the thrill and gain knowledge as one would feel traveling to a place.

Suryamukhi:

The beautiful journeys to Taiwan and Hong Kong are recorded in ‘Surjamukhi’. "Taiwan" city is situated at the heart of Pacific Ocean. The Portuguese Sailors, in the past, named it ‘Formosa’ in 1583. It means ‘Beautiful Island’. The Present name ‘Taiwan’ is a modern invention. While describing the Island as like a leave of a tobacco as, she provides detail about the geography, physical nature of the land, and also mentions thee culture, language, of the place. Apart from them, there is captivating description of Tai Pe city, Silo city, the flowers-garden lake city, etc as well as its economic- political life also. The description is loaded with minute details. There are descriptions of Taiwanese tribes and the female taxi-driver: Talking about their education system, she writes –there are 75 colleges, and 10 universities in Taiwan. Fourteen colleges also provide an opportunity to the students to attain degrees. Further writes - "this nation is also not free from encountering problems of Brain Drain’. Many Chinese students settled down permanently in abroad after receiving education. Again from a women’s perspective, she writes of the dress- costumes of Chinese ladies- ‘Mini skirts are popular among the young, unmarried girls. The instance of being thrilled at the sight of ‘Assam Tea’ in Evergreen Hotel has come out very fluently from the pen of Mrs. Baruah. While describing the city of Hongkong her writes-‘Some people call ‘Hongkong’ a pearl stone. I felt as if this pearl was dropped from the necklace of an angel’.

Due to this simple and lucid style, ‘Surjyamukhi’ has become an attractive piece of work.

Astatara: (Fallen Star):

‘Asta tora’ is the only fiction written by Mrs. Anu Borah. Written in the backdrop of a village life, it is a story of story of some of some young boys and girls exploited by the wealthy class. At the end, the girl, unable to recourse, commits suicide.

Although the sounds familiar to the actual happenings, the acute detail of village has increased the pathos of the story. The book published in 1970 is obviously worth-reading and magnificent.

Apart from these, there are two short story collections- ‘Archi Ghar and ‘Karunamoyee" by the graciously embraced by the public. The second collection was published in 1969 which was graciously embraced by the public. The second collection ‘Karunamayee’ has not found publication till now. Another book ‘Nanda Talukdar" is also unpublished. The children story collection- "Pakhir Dekhot Anujumoni" (1964). ‘Xadhu, Xadhu, Xadhu’ (1984), ‘Prasin Bharatiya Xadhu’ (1965), etc have been acclaimed all over by the reading public. Subsequently, the ten volumes of Assamese literature.

The factors responsible for grafting Mrs Anu Baruah into a talented writer are her studious nature and deep thinking. Her husband’s encouragement, inspiration, guidance and help are worth- mentioning in this regard. Similarly, Mrs. Anu Baruah was always at her husband’s success and achievement.

In the domestic sphere Mrs. Baruah was a dedicated housewife, a devoted wife and a doting mother. To her husband, she was an ideal wife, a source of his strength and inspiration. Mr. Baruah spent some 14 years in Delhi during his tenure as an MP, facilitating the zeal of Mrs. Baruah to explore new literary avenues.

A husband like Hem Baruah who has proved his supremacy in politics, literature, and social service and in every field, two sons studying at Saint Columbus School and Saint Stephen’s College, respectively, attributed to the peaceful family life of Mrs. Baruah. The house which had a congenial atmosphere for literary discussions became the centre of discussion of healthy politics. The house echoed the marry voices of prominent politicians and literatures, a house which became place of refuge and shelter parental affection and guidance from Baruah couple.

Suddenly, a terrible storm blew away the peace and tranquility of this house. Their peaceful normal life hand comes to a halt. Hem Baruah was defeated in the 1961 elections. A towering figure like Hem Baruah was disheartened and broken; not because he suffered defeat but due to the political nasty games, false blames. Unhitches and unfazed, Mrs. Anu Baruah stood by her husband like a pillar of strength they had to come back to Assam. Mrs. Anu Baruah was stuck for a while before vacating the government quarter. Where will she take her sons who are till students? Where will she live them? The husband, under the shade of whose care and strength they had been growing steadily, was now falling weak mentally and physically. Mrs. Anu Baruah did not become depressed. She kept her heart firm. She would have to restore her husband lost physical and mental strength. She took the fading help of life under her control. But what about economic security? Nobody paid any attention to this side all this while. They spent their days in serving the nation, people and literature. Anu Baruah started thinking seriously to remove her husbands’ anxiety; she wiped away tears and became strong. Studying in D.U, her elder son Tu- Mon was one month- away from M.A Previous Exam, she said to him "Better to appear in Tea Estate interview rather than sitting for exam. The son agreed without a single word. How heartrending it is for parents to deter a bright and brilliant student full of potentialities from pursuing education farther, and send him for service! Still she had to conceal her tears, and ask the son to do so. She said that he would have to prepare for the uncertain future. In order to keep intact the golden dreams of the past, he would have to come down to the battle- field of life.

Her heart, once again, was overtaken by fear. What if she has to ask the younger son, Anjan a student of B.Sc. final year, to stop education! It did not happen. With God’s Grace, they could arrange for Anjan’s remaining education. The Baruah couple returned to Assam. After they settled down in their own residence in the north Guwahati in 1971, a mild change came to the health of Mr. Baruah. The elder son joined the tea estate. The younger son passed the B.Sc final year in the class. Once again, peace came to well in their house. Rat the request of the management of newspaper ‘Assam Express’, Mr. Baruah took charge as its editor. They passed the year 1971-72 in their usual round of tours, reading and writing. The shadow of misfortune fell once again. Destiny was bent on talking their test. Mr. Baruah’s health deteriorated. Mrs. Baruah took him to Delhi for treatment. She admitted her husband in All India Medical Institute with utmost patience. She stayed with him like a shadow. She proved herself to be a source of sacrifice and strength to her mentally broken husband. The entire year of 1974, at the advice of doctor, Mrs. Barah took the responsibilities of Mrs. Baruah’s regular excises and walking, She performed her duties regularly with unflinching faith and unwavering hope. But time has its own pace. From 1974, Mrs. Baruah herself fell ill. She suffered terribly under severe body ache. Her condition became so worse that the strong willed Anu Baruah became helpless. Probably, God did not listen to her prayers. The epitome of unusual liveliness and joy, always Jovialan image of determination, the Baruah couple were mutilated by the cruel hands of time. Their hands and feet had become feeble and inactive; both of them spent their days lying on separate beds with some dreams in their eyes. The poem of their life cried in a sad voice. From her bed, Mrs. Baruah kept a watch over her husband’s health. With the help of some boys who came forward to help, she tried to sustain her family. The guests were honored and received with her smile. At that time, their two sons were busy in shaping their professional life.

It was not easy for Mrs. Baruah to come out of the calamity of hard times. When she managed to just walk with some support, her husband’s mother visited them. Immediately after this, her mother-in-law died in Jorhat. The news engraved her deeply but she summoned courage to reveal it to her husband. Thus affected with physical and mental break down, she had become upset but never depressed. In between, their elder son ‘Tu-mon’ got married in 1976. the marriage in which appointment and celebrated guests from all over the country and Assam would have assembled, would have become the matter of discussion in not only the political-literary circles but also among the lay man; in that hastily arranged elder son’s marriage, they were present with their weak bodies ‘wings’ cut off a butterflies body’, they attended the occasion with a broken heart and gave blessings with moist eyes. Still, they welcomed the bride with great love, forgetting their own pain. Baruah was extremely happy to see the new bride.

Amidst these pain and sufferings, the Guwahati Sahitya Sabha came had become too weak. It was a pathetic sight to watch talkative Baruah becoming so silent. On the day of conferring the honors, in the presence of celebrated guests as Neelmoni Phukan (niece), Atul Chandra Hazarika, and others, Mrs. Baruah stood like a shadow by the side of her husband who had lost the ability to speak. Baruah’s silent gaze on his wife spoke many words to Anu Baruah.

As requested by the literary journal ‘Mur Dekh’ (My Country) to write about ‘Mur Monor Manuh Jonor Kotha’ (The story of the person of my heart) for its Hem Baruah edition, Mrs. Baruah stated that she had no physical or mental health left to write an article, and further adds- ‘The past days appear like a fantasy today, the people who do not know us or keep on lying in the sickly mats. I recollect the by gone days looking at his face. This same man had accomplished so many things in the past life. This thought hunts my heart, and fills it with pain’. The heart questions itself, "Why did it all happen? How did it happen? In other place she writes, "Today, I struggle with the harsh realty of life, struggle with disease, only struggle. I do not understand where it will end. Is there no end to our long night of sorrow? This is not seemed to be letter but an incessant flow of Mrs. Baruah’s tears. Can there be a more compelling or heart touching piece of writing than this? Life is also a literature. The life of Mrs. Baruah is a heart rending story of end of happiness, property, joy, pain and loss in life.

Mrs. Anu Baruah was always the centre of Mrs. Hem Baruah’s every achievement. Every day, in the afternoon and evening, she would take note of her husband’s article. She would copy the manuscripts for him. The handwriting of Mrs. Baruah is very beautiful. Even today her writing with the almost inactive hand can astonish the onlooker. Hem Baruah, himself said his wife, ‘I feel strengthened when you are around’. This lady, besides being the source of his strength and inspiration, was also an object of his respect.

The last rays of hope also ended in that fateful day- when, if not unexpected but unwontedly that final sorrow befell on Mrs. Anu Baruah. Refuting all treatment and care, her husband closed his eyes in eternal slumber. It was 9th of April, 1977. Grief- stricken and divested, she did not lose patience. As her husband’s half- finished responsiblity are to be completed. Acting as a shadow to her husband and providing him support and strength now after the death of her husband, it seemed as if he gave her strength and will power invisibly. It reminds of those famous lines from a poem:

‘At the end, I request you only one thing,

These two boys of ours, never ever

Let them feel the absence of their father.

Tell them one thing only,

The death which enlivens ten people,

That death is immortal like soul.’

 

This immortal soul gave her courage. She went on performing her duties though her heart was field with hollowness. Keeping aside her health conditions, she organized her husband’s books and letters. She got her younger son married. Taking inspiration from the soul inside her heart, she once again, held pen in her hands. Disease, the weakening hand would often slow down but could never stop her hands. She compiled the poems of her husband, and gave it the shape of a book. ---- ‘Hem Baruah Kobita (Poems of Hem Baruah). She also managed to write some two there articles which has been published in some newspapers recently. In spite of working like a machine, the sadness underlying her heart agonize her every moment. At this time, many admirers’ people advised her to write on Mrs. Baruah. She begins to write – ‘Hem Baruah! The person I know’. Those force of unspoken feelings, at the touch of the pen, tried to break the tide. Her lax hand would stop from time to time but heart would never want to stop. Like old days, she would get up early in the morning, and sit down in the reading table. Although her husband was not sitting nearby with a book, her heart could always feel his presence.

She went on writing with brief pauses. All the pent up emotions of her heart, the respect and devotion, the lively memories found expression in her writing. Due to ill health, the pace of her writing was slow. After almost one year, her book for only was released in published form. One who reads this book for only once will understand the factual historical details outpouring in the writings of wise, studious Mrs. Baruah. The man I know’ falls in which genre of literature, biography or novel? I think, even if it is considered as a biography, it is actually a novel set in a real characters….. In my view, the writer Hem Baruah has grown with this work". The artist Shri Jugal Das had written: Finished reading Hem Baruah: The man I know’ in one sitting.

While going to Delhi to attend an official exhibition, I felt proud and exalted to hear the praises of Baruah from two non- Assamese ladies. A question arose in mind on reading ‘Hem Baruah’- who is important? Hem Baruah or Anu Baruah? Beautiful setting, beautiful reviews. I pay my respect". The writer Shri Birendra Kumar Bhattachariya has written: "On reading your ‘Hem Baruah : The man I know", I had the feeling of meeting him personally. The task you have accomplished with a sickly boy: I feel proud of it".

The writer Shri Munin Borkotoky comments: "……Your book has made my heart heavy. The scenes of Jorhat, Guwahati, Delhi, arise in the mirror of heart. Can there be anything more aggrieving than the thought the by- gone days would never come back again? I enjoyed reading the book". Shri Jogendra Narayan Goswami wrote from Jamuguri, Sonitpur: "… A true wife’s writing for her husband has become successful’. The fact- laden book is filled with the echoes of a wife’s sad heart…. As the wife of a national figure of the first rank, and writer of the first rank, you have acquired a lot of experience. Those experiences will help in enriching your writings. Only then you will find peace’. Thus Anu Baruah received praise and recognition from many people.

Every lover of literature knows the contribution of this great, extremely talented woman- Mrs. Anu Baruah to Assamese literature. Had she been physically sound, we would have been benefited with more valuable literary works. Confined to the four walls of her room for ten or fifteen years now, with a paralyzed body, the creativity displayed by her is a matter of pride for all of us.

Especially she is source of inspiration and courage for all the women writers. The speech given by her in an interview to Guwahati, Doordarshan, and again, in the felicitation ceremony organized by Women Writers Association of Guwahati, were so inspiring for all literary fans, that must have been realized by all the audience.

May God bless Mrs. Baruah with a sound health so that she can contribute many more valuable books to Assamese literature? This is our prayer.

 

 

 

 
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